How to be a responsible steward of Democracy, Human Rights Capitalism and Planet Earth.

How to be a responsible steward of Planet Earth.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Harvard Professor Invents The WikiCell, Food Packaging You Can Eat - Business Insider

Harvard Professor Invents The WikiCell, Food Packaging You Can Eat - Business Insider

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Occupy Wall Street: Don't Act. Just Think. | Slavoj Žižek | Big Think

Change is a Constant:

Big Thinker with some interesting ideas...

Slavoj Žižek: Don't Act. Just Think. - YouTube
Uploadedd on Aug 28, 2012 by

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic.

He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and many more.


Capitalism is... and this, almost I'm tempted to say is what is great about it, although I'm very critical of it...

Capitalism is more an ethical/religious category for me. 

It's not true when people attack capitalists as egotists. "They don't care." No! An ideal capitalist is someone who is ready, again, to stake his life, to risk everything just so that production grows, profit grows, capital circulates.

His personal or her happiness is totally subordinated to this. This is what I think Walter Benjamin, the great Frankfurt School companion, thinker, had in mind when he said capitalism is a form of religion. 

 You cannot explain, account for, a figure of a passionate capitalist, obsessed with expanded circulation, with rise of his company, in terms of personal happiness.

I am, of course, fundamentally anti-capitalist. But let's not have any illusions here. No.

What shocks me is that most of the critics of today's capitalism feel even embarrassed, that's my experience, when you confront them with a simple question, "Okay, we heard your story . . . protest horrible, big banks depriving us of billions, hundreds, thousands of billions of common people's money. . . .

Okay, but what do you really want? What should replace the system?" 

And then you get one big confusion. You get either a general moralistic answer, like "People shouldn't serve money. Money should serve people."

Well, frankly, Hitler would have agreed with it, especially because he would say, "When people serve money, money's controlled by Jews," and so on, no?

So either this or some kind of a vague connection, social democracy, or a simple moralistic critique, and so on and so on. So, you know, it's easy to be just formally anti-capitalist, but what does it really mean? It's totally open.

This is why, as I always repeat, with all my sympathy for Occupy Wall Street movement, it's result was . . .

I call it a Bartleby lesson. Bartleby, of course, Herman Melville's Bartleby, you know, who always answered his favorite "I would prefer not to" . . .

 The message of Occupy Wall Street is, I would prefer not to play the existing game.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the system and the existing forms of institutionalized democracy are not strong enough to deal with problems. Beyond this, they don't have an answer and neither do I. For me, Occupy Wall Street is just a signal. It's like clearing the table.

Time to start thinking.

The other thing, you know, it's a little bit boring to listen to this mantra of "Capitalism is in its last stage." When this mantra started, if you read early critics of capitalism, I'm not kidding, a couple of decades before French Revolution, in late eighteenth century. No, the miracle of capitalism is that it's rotting in decay, but the more it's rotting, the more it thrives. So, let's confront that serious problem here.

Also, let's not remember--and I'm saying this as some kind of a communist--that the twentieth century alternatives to capitalism and market miserably failed. . . .

Like, okay, in Soviet Union they did try to get rid of the predominance of money market economy. The price they paid was a return to violent direct master and servant, direct domination, like you no longer will even formally flee. You had to obey orders, a new authoritarian society. . . .

And this is a serious problem: how to abolish market without regressing again into relations of servitude and domination.

My advice would be--because I don't have simple answers--two things: 
(a) precisely to start thinking. Don't get caught into this pseudo-activist pressure. Do something. Let's do it, and so on. So, no, the time is to think. 

 I even provoked some of the leftist friends when I told them that if the famous Marxist formula was, "Philosophers have only interpreted the world; the time is to change it" . . . thesis 11 . . . ,

that maybe today we should say,
"In the twentieth century, we maybe tried to change the world too quickly. The time is to interpret it again, to start thinking."

(b) Second thing, I'm not saying people are suffering, enduring horrible things, that we should just sit and think, but we should be very careful what we do. 

Here, let me give you a surprising example.  I think that, okay, it’s so fashionable today to be disappointed at President Obama, of course, but sometimes

I’m a little bit shocked by this disappointment because what did the people expect, that he will introduce socialism in United States or what? 

But for example, the ongoing universal health care debate is an important one.  This is a great thing.  


Because, on the one hand, this debate which taxes the very roots of ordinary American ideology, you know, freedom of choice, states wants to take freedom from us and so on.  

I think this freedom of choice that Republicans attacking Obama are using, its pure ideology.

But at the same time, universal health care is not some crazy, radically leftist notion.  It’s something that exists all around and functions basically relatively well--Canada, most of Western European countries.

 So the beauty is to select a topic which touches the fundamentals of our ideology, but at the same time, we cannot be accused of promoting an impossible agenda--like abolish all private property or what.  

No, it’s something that can be done and is done relatively successfully and so on.

So that would be my idea, to carefully select issues like this where we do stir up public debate but we cannot be accused of being utopians in the bad sense of the term.



Don't Act. Just Think. | Slavoj Žižek | Big Think

Monday, August 20, 2012

Seeing the Roses

The Seeing the Roses  series was created by Rick Heller, the co-founder of the Humanist Mindfulness Group, which is sponsored by the Humanist Community Project at Harvard.

Rick led a meditation on Valentine's Day for a friend of his wife's who had received roses on that day. At the conclusion of the meditation, she opened her eyes and her gaze fell upon the roses. She remarked on how much more vivid they seemed to be after the meditation. As she had become mindful, her senses were temporarily amplified and she had seen the roses in a new way.

 The common expression "stop and smell the roses," is really a reminder to be mindful.This is how the series was named.

 Seeing the Roses is a series of videos about consumerism and the planet.  It promotes the practice of mindfuness as a way to increase our sensations of pleasure, happiness and love.
Americans are twice as rich than fifty years ago, but  not happier. What's going on?

Consumerism is a kind of soft addiction that overtakes the brain's reward centers. Just as people can become habituated to drugs, and require larger and larger doses in order to get high, we have become habituated to our possessions and seek more and newer possessions in order to maintain the same level of happiness.

Mindfulness can reverse habituation and help people gain lasting satisfaction from the things they have so that they don't need to accumulate more things. The less we buy, the less gets made, and the less pollution there is to damage the planet.

License:  Standard YouTube License.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Define Success to properly set your compass

I found one day in school a boy of medium size ill-treating a smaller boy. I expostulated, but he replied: The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that's fair. In these words he epitomized the history of the human race.
- Bertrand Russell

“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure. ”
― Mark Twain
"In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins
- not by strength but by perseverance."
- H. Jackson Brown 
 “Don't mistake activity with achievement.”
― John Wooden
 “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
― Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

“Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

“I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”
― Amelia Earhart

“Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, "Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody." ... [My dark side says,] I am no good... I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the "Beloved." Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen

Almost Extinct Bird: Brazilian Merganser

2ND PRIZE Brazilian MerganserPhoto: Savio Freire Bruno

Conservation authorities believe there are less than 250 individuals of this magnificent bird surviving. Living in Brazil for the most part, there are a tiny number in Argentina and it has been extirpated from Paraguay. Unfortunately, all trends of the merganser population are downward, following work on hydroelectric dams, silting and pollution of rivers from agricultural activities, as well as mining, all leading to deforestation. Hopefully, groups like Birdlife International and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust will be able to help increase and stabilize the population in the future.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Rare Honduran Emerald Hummingbird


Saving a Dry Forest Jewel

Quick! What’s green, 9.5 centimeters and found only in Honduras?
The emerald hummingbird, Amazilia luciae. It’s one of the country’s rarest birds—Central America’s most endangered, in fact—and the only bird to call Honduras its exclusive home.

But fewer than a thousand of these flying jewels still exist today because their habitat is being cleared for cattle grazing and agriculture such as banana plantations.
5TH PRIZE Honduran Emerald 

Photo: Robert E Hyman

The Honduran Emerald hummingbird is a flitting jewel in the dry forest, darting between bromeliad flowers, acacias and cacti while snapping up small insects midair. It is the only bird exclusive to Honduras and critically endangered, with fewer than 1,000 left due to habitat destruction.   The good news is, this pint-sized whirlybird now has a safe haven in the Emerald Hummingbird Reserve, created by the Honduran government in 2005 with help from The Nature Conservancy. This 12,000-acre reserve in the Yoro department protects not just the emerald but also critically threatened dry forest habitat—sorely under-represented in the country’s national protected areas system. Dry forests here are important sites for migratory birds, reptiles, orchids and up to 50 endemic plant species.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mongolia's Threatened Reindeer People

The Plight of Mongolia's Reindeer Herding People
Dukha woman milking reindeerReindeer are milked twice a day by women of the tribe. The yogurt-like milk is four to five times more fatty than cow’s milk.
The mountainous boreal forests of the taiga are harsh, wild, and achingly beautiful. Although not as well known as the either the Gobi Desert or the grassy steppe of Mongolia, the taiga nevertheless represents the world’s largest biome.
Beginning where the frozen tundra ends, the taiga’s dark, coniferous woodlands stretch almost continuously from Eurasia across to sub-arctic North America. It is an important place because of its tremendous environmental value and as the home of the indigenous Dukha people and their reindeer herds – yet it is currently under threat.

This is not an easy place in which to live. Mostly, it is cold: the average temperature is below 32°F (0°C) and can drop all the way to a bone-chilling -65°F (-53°C). However, in the summer months the heat can shoot all the way up to 70°F (21°C), a massive variation from the usual chill. Yet, for the forests of the taiga and its flora and fauna, these are the perfect conditions for life.

Dukha woman with reindeerThe woman pictured, Chechek (Flower), was host to the photographer and is a shaman of the taiga.
For over 3,000 years, the Dukha people (also known as the Tsaatan) have lived here, adapting their nomadic lifestyle to the extreme weather and landscape of the taiga. During this time they have become bound to their reindeer herds, which provide them with everything from meat, hides and milk to a vital system of transport.  Everything on the reindeer, down to the antlers, is used by the Dukha.  They are a hardy people – as they would have to be to survive in this challenging terrain. Yet the population of the Dukha, and the reindeer on which they rely, are dwindling, and urgent changes are needed if they are to continue with their ancient way of life.

Photographer Uluc Kecik traveled into the taiga to capture these pictures and meet the Dukha in Mongolia’s northernmost reaches. “Today, the Dukha represent Mongolia's smallest ethnic minority, with approximately 45 nomadic households herding reindeer,” says Kecik. “They are, to varying degrees, facing threats to their cultural survival – transitions to market-based economies, tourism, global warming, language loss and assimilation into the dominant majority.”
 The Dukha’s Mongolian name “Tsataan” can be translated as “reindeer herder”, reinforcing just how inextricably their whole way of living is tied to these animals. As recently as 15 years ago, the Dukha (along with three other nomadic tribes of the region) herded up to 15,000 reindeer between them. These days, the number has dwindled to 2,200 and is still falling.

The reindeer themselves are tame and will often respond when called. Traditionally, the Dukha have primarily hunted wild animals for meat, slaughtering their reindeer only when the animals were past breeding age and too old to be used for transport. However, these days, difficult economic times and the decreasing amount of wildlife in the forests mean that, more and more, herders are forced to kill and eat their reindeer to survive.

As one United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) document puts it, “Taiga reindeer herders, including the Dukhas, have been likened to hunter-gatherers, rather than true pastoralists, because hunting wild meat has played as important a role in their livelihoods as herding."

Dukha reindeer herd on the taiga
The Dukha and their reindeer move between six and ten times a year. The taiga is normally a rich habitat, sustaining creatures such as bears, squirrels, rabbits, badgers and, of course, reindeer. Yet, in recent times, commercial hunting and other factors have severely diminished the wild animal population. And not only does this result in there being less for the Dukha to hunt, but also less for their hunting competitors, the wolves. This means that, like the herders, wolves are also preying on the reindeer stocks.
Another environmental problem for the taiga – and therefore the reindeer herders – is unregulated mining. These small-scale operations, generally searching for gold or jade, cause large-scale damage to the forest ecosystem. Some of the undesirable side effects of the mines are deforestation, wildfires, and contamination with toxic chemicals that affects both the land and water sources. All of this has adverse results for the animals living within the forest and the herders needing to pasture their animals.Like people who live off the land all around the world, the Dukha are also being affected by climate change. “The taiga – the Dukha homeland – is a hotspot for biodiversity and is rich in natural resources,” says UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “But it is also one of the regions of Mongolia which could suffer the greatest impacts of climate change over the coming decades.”
The effects of climate change in the taiga include disastrous weather patterns. In the last twelve years, there have been seven erratic weather events – from droughts to extreme winters – a sobering statistic, considering the fact that there had only been three such extreme weather events in the 60 years leading up to the year 2000. These changes create added demand for suitable grazing land and put more stress on the ecology and herding communities.
                                                               Trimming the antlers to allow for maneuverability in                                                                     the  trees.
Dukha cutting antlers
Bad weather, overhunting, wolves and mining are unfortunately not the only problems for reindeer herds. Another major factor in their declining population are the effects of inbreeding and disease. For thousands of years, the Dukha have been experts in reindeer husbandry – a skill passed down through families for generations. In the past, this was sufficient to keep the herds strong and healthy, but sadly it is perhaps no longer enough.  Unfortunately, much of the collective knowledge about reindeer husbandry was lost during the mismanagement of the Soviet years. Inbreeding among herds meant weaker stock that was more susceptible to diseases such as brucellosis. Caused by bacteria, brucellosis leads to reproductive problems and joint swelling in the animals it infects.

Even those reindeer uninfected by brucellosis are showing the other adverse signs of inbreeding. For one thing, new calves are born small and sickly. Females will also sometimes be born with fewer teats and, when they reach child-bearing age, give birth to twins, which normally die – two clear signs that there is not enough genetic variety in the herd.  During the 1960s and 1980s, the Soviet government tried to deal with the low population and inbreeding problem by replenishing the herd with reindeer from Siberia. Since the fall of the USSR, however, there have been no more outside additions.  While some suggest bringing in reindeer, or at least their semen, from herds in Siberia, or from even further climes such as Canada or Scandinavia, As suggested, not everyone agrees that introducing foreign stock into these reindeer herds is a good idea. Some think that introducing new genes will mess with the generations of adaptations the Dukha have bred into the taiga reindeer to make them suitable for their use, particularly as transport animals. Opponents have also pointed out that molecular research has been done on the taiga herds, and that so far they have been found to be no more inbred than many other similar populations. The research continues.
Yet despite these objections, plans to introduce new blood to the herd continue. According to a Dukha herder Bayandalai, it is definitely a good idea. “The reindeer our ancestors used to herd were healthy,” he says. “Today I have only one wish, and that is for the government to bring in reindeer from Siberia, Scandinavia, or Canada. If not reindeer, then reindeer semen.”
Whatever impact inbreeding has on the health of the reindeer herds, there are also other factors contributing to the problem. One of these is the increasingly stationary lifestyle of the Dukha people. Once, the Dukha were nomadic wanderers, but the younger generations are being lured to settle down by the promise of schools and consumer goods. Border closings, such as that between Mongolia and Russia, and the degradation and commercial use of land, also mean the Dukha are not as free to graze their herds as they once were.
This restricted movement means the reindeer herds now have difficulty getting the lichen they need for nutrition. The Dukha also believe that the disruption of natural migration patterns, as well as climate change, has led to more health problems like parasites and diseases. They also blame increased transportation of the reindeer from the taiga to the steppe, and the contact they make with livestock along the way, for spreading infection. Added to this is the limited availability of veterinary care for sick animals.
On the positive side, organizations such as UNEP and international NGOs are working to help the people of the taiga retain their culture and way of life. UNEP has made several proposals, including making a record of traditional Dukha knowledge and promoting biodiversity in the region. They also propose that strategies be drawn up for future land use and that this be closely monitored for its impact on the environment
UNEP also advises that tourism be regulated so that it has a positive rather than negative impact on the sensitive ecosystem. For this, they recommend talks between tour operators, local government, land users and herders to reach agreements for the benefit of all. Further, they suggest that current hunting regulations be evaluated to measure their impact on the Dukha and their means of support.
 Of utmost importance will be a program to grow the reindeer herds and provide them with veterinary care using, as UNEP say, both Western and traditional knowledge. Aiding them in this is a New York-based organization, The Totem Peoples Project, which is raising funds to research the diseases and health problems of the taiga reindeer as well as lobbying the local government for more support for the Dukha.

Dukha canvas tent
In the old days, pole houses were covered with reindeer hide; now, canvas is used.
“Reindeer are more than simply the animal which provides a livelihood in the taiga,” says Daniel Plumley, founder of the Totem Peoples Project. “They represent the culture here. Without the reindeer, the culture would cease to exist.” Batulga, a Dukha reindeer specialist, agrees. “Without the reindeer we are not Dukha,” he says.
Of the current work being done to help the Dukha and their herds, Batulga says, “We have had success in our difficult work, but we have only just begun. We give our deepest thanks to all who can help us, the Dukha, to continue the proud way of our people.”
For our part, we can only hope that efforts to keep alive the millennia-old way of life for these reindeer nomads prove successful, and that the Dukha people and their herds will always remain part of the Mongolian taiga.
 Photos: Uluc Kecik
 Written by: Yohani Kamarudin

Common Pesticide Implicated Bee Colony Collapse Disorder | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

Common Pesticide Implicated Bee Colony Collapse Disorder

By Katherine Harmon | April 6, 2012

Honeybee image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Gideon Pisanty

Honeybee colonies have been mysteriously dying off all over the globe, leaving scientists scratching their heads—and important crops languishing in the fields unpollinated. Viruses, mites, pesticides and poor food choices have been fingered as potential culprits. And three new studies in the past week are taking aim at one of the most common types of agricultural insecticides.

Farmers worldwide have been using one popular neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, for about a decade to keep harmful insects off their cotton, corn, grains, potatoes, rice, vegetables and other crops. Like other neonicotinoids it targets the nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death. Because honeybees (Apis mellifera) are insects, too, biologists have long suspected neonicotinoids as a possible force in colony collapse disorder.

Although most residue levels have not been found to kill bees on contact, the chemicals could conceivably do harm later on in these important pollinators—or their offspring–that ingest it either through nectar from sprayed crops or through the corn syrup that beekeepers feed to their bees; that syrup is made from insecticide-treated corn.

Researchers have now found that repeated low-dose exposures are perfectly capable of gradually killing of whole hives of bees. In fact, 94 percent of hives whose bees had been fed the pesticide died off entirely within less than six months, according to a new paper that will be in the June issue of Bulletin of Insectology.

Starting in the summer of 2010, Chensheng Lu, an associate professor of environmental exposure biology at Harvard School of Public Health, along with members of the Worcester County Beekeepers Association in Massachusetts, monitored 20 brand new hives. The hives were kept in four separate clusters that were at least 12 kilometers apart, ensuring the bees from each cluster would not mingle. In each cluster of hives, four hives were fed standard, commercial high-fructose corn syrup (which many honeybee keepers would feed their bees) laced with trace amounts of imidacloprid (comparable to concentrations that have been found in the environment) and one control hive was given only the high-fructose corn syrup.

The feeding began July 1st, and the imidacloprid dosing was stopped in the experimental hives at the end of September (after which all bees were fed a standard high-fructose corn syrup and granular sucrose diet). By mid-December, all of the hives had gone into over-wintering mode and were still alive. But some of the pesticide-fed hives were showing signs of weakening; scatterings of dead bees were found on the snow in front of these faltering hives.

The first experimental hive was found to be empty of bees, signaling collapse, on December 31, 2010. And by February 24, 2011, all but one imidacloprid-treated hive had any surviving bees. “Dead hives were remarkably empty except for stores of food and some pollen left on the frames,” the study authors noted. One of the control hives had fallen, the researchers noted, but it showed signs of having been infected with dysentery. The researchers did not find signs that any of the dead hives had been overtaken by the Nosema virus or Varroa mites, both of which have been suspected in the past of contributing to colony collapse disorder. This finding suggests that in some cases, insecticide alone might be able to bring down a hive.

Two other teams of researchers, based in France and the U.K., respectively, also found that hives fed with the insecticide failed to prosper. The French group reported that honeybees exposed to a similar neonicotinoid insecticide (thiamethoxam) had a harder time finding their way back to the hive, weakening the colony, possibly making it more prone to collapse. And the U.K. group fed trace amounts of the insecticide to bumble bees, whose populations have also been contracting. They found that it made the bumble bees less able to produce queens that could start new hives. Both of their papers were published in the March 30 issue of Science.

Commenting in the New York Times, an ecotoxicologist from Bayer CropScience, a company that makes imidacloprid, took issue with the French study, arguing that the bees were fed an unrealistically high doses of insecticide. The authors of the paper noted, however, that it was a distinctly sublethal dose. The authors of the Harvard-based paper tried a variety of doses (ranging from 20 micrograms of insecticide per kilogram of corn syrup to 200 micrograms), all of which led to colony deaths. “Our experiment included pesticide amounts below what is normally present in the environment,” Lu said in a prepared statement. “It apparently doesn’t take much of the pesticide to affect the bees.”

Lu and his colleagues are unsure why the insecticide might have resulted in such a delayed colony death, especially as many of the bees that would have fed on the pesticide-infused syrup would have already been replaced by a new generation by the wintertime. They hypothesize that the low levels of the toxin might have affected larval growth and led to weaker adults.

More work will need to be done to determine how these small doses of insecticide might be killing off bee colonies—and how it might be contributing to other observed plagues, such as mites and viruses, and even parasites that seem to put honeybees into a zombie-like state, as a report earlier this year indicated.

But work will need to be swift. At least a third of U.S. honeybee colonies have died out in the past six years. “The significance of bees to agricultural cannot be understated,” Lu said. They pollinate about one third of U.S. crop species, including almonds, apples, grapes, soybeans, cotton, and others, the failure of which could lead not only to food shortages, but also to large economic hits for farmers—and consumers.

About the Author: Katherine Harmon is an associate editor for Scientific American covering health, medicine and life sciences. 


Common Pesticide Implicated Bee Colony Collapse Disorder | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rare Bird- Kakap

1ST PRIZE Kakapo 
Photo: Shane McInnes
 The critically endangered Kakapo, one of the world's few flightless birds and a member of the parrot family, is the heaviest parrot, is one of the longest living, and is nocturnal and herbivorous. As of 2010 there were only 124 individuals known, so few that each one of them has been given a name and a radio transmitter.
The Kakapo Recovery Plan has done herculean work to preserve and increase the population. All known kakapos were relocated to two islands where stoats and feral cats had been removed, Codfish and Anchor Island. Both islands will hold 100 kakapos each and work is ongoing to find a suitable island where one day kakapos will be able to live free from human management such as the sanctuaries. Two possibilities have been identified by the department of conservation and it seems some work is already being done to prepare them. Out of all the birds on the list, the kakapo has a good chance because the government is so intimately involved in trying to protect the species.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Saving Grizzly Bears

Montana Grizzly Encounter - Brutus the Bear

License:  Standard YouTube License
Uploaded by on Jun 4, 2009
 Montana Grizzly Encounter, Home of Brutus the Bear & Friends!
Welcome to Montana Grizzly Encounter; a Grizzly Bear Rescue & Education Sanctuary in Bozeman, Montana. Founded in 2004, it provides a spacious and natural home for rescued  grizzlies.  At the same time it provides a place where the public can come and learn about grizzly bears as they watch the majestic animals “up close” in a beautiful mountain setting.
All of our bears were born in unfortunate captive situations and could NEVER be released into the wild.  The bears have been rescued from often inhumane captive situations all over the U.S.

We give the bears the best possible life here at the sanctuary.  We give people an opportunity to see and understand this awesome creature safely, up close, with no bars or cages to  obstruct the view.  The Grizzly Encounter is open to school groups free of charge, and each year thousands of children learn about grizzly bear safety and conservation.  In this way, Brutus and the Grizzly Encounter are doing their best to help insure that there will be wild bears in our forests for generations to come.

Bart the bear's Legacy

Uploaded by on Mar 24, 2008
Bart is one of the most accomplished animal actors of all time, starring in many of films including: Dr. Dolittle, The bear, clan of the cave bear, The edge, and pretty much any other film in need of a good bear.

He was born in 1977 at a zoo and soon after adopted by Doug and Lynn Seus. They developed a huge bond with bart and gave him probably the best life any bear could have.

Bart died in 2000 due to cancer at the age of 23. He was over 9 feet tall and weighed 1780 pounds. It's amazing that doug wrestled and played with this bear on a daily bases for a span of many years without ever getting seriously injured. Doug understood how to interact with bart such as you ALWAYS keep bart happy. He also blew into his nose to keep calm him down if he ever got to excited. No matter how much love you know wild animal has for you, it is important to remember that they can hurt you even if they don't want to...

The Vital Ground Foundation helps preserve the threatened grizzly bear, other animals, plants, and natural communities through the conservation of habitat and wildlife linkage areas.

 With the grizzly bear as its compass, Vital Ground works to reconnect fragmented landscapes in the U.S. and Canada critical to wildlife movement and biodiversity. Because the grizzly's range covers several hundred square miles—from alpine meadows to valley bottoms—protecting and expanding habitat and migration corridors important to the Great Bear benefits entire animal and plant communities in the wildest, yet most imperiled, places left in North America.

License:  Standard YouTube License

Ex-Child Soldier Gives Back to Sudan- A Story of Inspriation


Gua Africa was founded by Emmanuel Jal, a South Sudanese ex-child soldier turned world renowned recording artist. The word GUA (pronounced gwaah) means peace in Nuer, a Sudanese tribal language.
Our mission is to work with individuals, families and communities to help them overcome the effects of war & poverty. Our projects are based in both Sudan and Kenya with a focus on providing education to children & young adults who would otherwise be denied this opportunity.
In April 2008 we were granted full UK charity status and also received our NGO registration in South Sudan. In April 2011 we received our NGO status in Kenya.

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Holocene extinction

 File:Bufo periglenes2.jpg

 The Golden Toad of Costa Rica, extinct since around 1989. Its disappearance has been attributed to a confluence of several factors, including El Niño warming, fungus, and the introduction of invasive species.

The dodo, a flightless bird of Mauritius, became extinct during the mid-late seventeenth century after humans destroyed the forests where the birds made their homes and introduced mammals that ate their eggs.

Holocene extinction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Paul Watson skips bail in Germany Because He is being Railroaded

a. To rush or push (something) through quickly in order to prevent careful consideration and possible criticism or obstruction: railroad a special-interest bill through Congress.
b. To convict (an accused person) without a fair trial or on trumped-up charges.
    Paul Watson arrested in Germany
    Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd environmental group, has skipped bail in Germany. Photograph: Albert Olive/EPA
    The controversial anti-whaling campaigner Paul Watson has skipped bail in Germany. 

     WHY? Because only the Paranoid survive and he has good reason to be worried considering the past actions of Japan and Costa Rica in dealings with Sea Shepherd.

    The higher regional court in Frankfurt announced on Wednesday that it had been told by Watson's lawyer that he had left Germany for an "unspecified destination."

    Susan Hartland, administrative director of Sea Shepherd, confirmed his flight from Germany.

    "We have reason to believe from a reliable source that, once in Costa Rica, the Japanese government may have sought extradition of Captain Watson to Japan to answer charges related to obstructing their illegal whaling activities in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary," Hartland said.

    Watson, one of the original founders of Greenpeace, gained fame through the Whale Wars TV show in which he and his crew are shown attempting to disrupt Japanese whalers.

    However, he was being detained in Germany on charges relating to an incident at sea in Central America in 2002.  and Japan wants him...

    Subterfuge:  Hold him on previously dropped charges so he could be then sent to japan for their revenge for losing face in the past being exposed for whaling in the name of research...

     In October last year maritime violation charges that had been previously dropped over the incident were reinstated by a Costa Rican prosecutor and an international arrest warrant was issued.

    Costa Rica has insisted that he would get a fair trial if extradited. However, Sea Shepherd has claimed that he would be in danger if he entered the penal system in the country.

     Who could believe the entreaties to "trust" the word of a prosecutor that was 'shabby' in their treatment of him last time Costa Rica arrested him? 

    Prosecutors in Costa Rica had dropped the charges against Watson only to reinstate them 10 years later in what looks like an attempt to trap Watson for the Japanese with the cooperation of Germany...

     Paul Watson and his current plight underline the conflict that arises between commercial interests and the battle to save endangered species...

    Paul Watson skips bail in Germany | Environment |


    Sungazer Lizard

    This video talks about a rare species of animals being collected for the Pet Trade.  Nothing is more attractive to a certain group of people than a rare and endangered animal kept for display in their homes.

    Freaks and Creeps: Sungazer Lizard

    Premieres Tuesday, July 17 10P et Freaks and Creeps Blog Site 



    A Hole in the Sun

    Sungazer lizards get their name from their habit of sitting with their nose up pointed at the sky. It looks like they're staring at the sun! Like all reptiles, sungazers are cold-blooded. To get warm in the morning, they sit and let the sun's rays heat them up. But no one really knows why they always sit in that heads-up position.

    Sungazers dig burrows for homes. There may be up to 40 sungazers living in one spot, but each has its own hole. The lizards spend the day catching the sun's rays and snatching insects that pass by. Sometimes, a sungazer hunts for food a few yards away from its hole, but never goes very far. The burrow is the lizard's safe spot.

    The spiney scales covering a sungazer's body are good protection from most predators. After all, who would want to get a mouthful of spikes? Believe it or not, jackals, badgers and birds of prey hunt these lizards. If they can get ahold of a sungazer, they have ways of getting around the sharp parts. But getting ahold of a sungazer lizard isn't so easy. When it senses danger, the lizard dashes into its burrow and shakes its spikey tail as a warning to leave it alone. If a predator grabs the lizard's tail to pull it out of the hole, the lizard puffs its body up with air so that the sharp pointy scales dig into the side of the burrow. The harder the predator pulls, the tighter the sungazer becomes stuck in the tunnel!

     File:Riesengürtelschweif (Cordylus giganteus) (3).JPG

    File:Cordylus giganteus 2.JPG
     Cordylus giganteus


    Gift of Sight

    Dr. Sanduk Ruit — Co-Director Himalayan Cataract Project

    Dr Sanduk Ruit was born in Olangchungola, Nepal, a remote village in Eastern Nepal. So remote the nearest school was a week's walk away. And there were no health posts. Ruit's sister died of tuberculosis when he was 17. This experience led him to become a doctor.

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    Dr. Sanduk Ruit’s soul mission has been, and continues to be, to bring eyesight back to anyone who needs it, regardless of his or her ability to pay — and to do so with pre- and post-operative care that rivals the highest quality health care throughout the world.

    Dr. Ruit developed a sutureless form of cataract surgery, a technique that allows safe, high-volume, low-budget operations. A masterful surgeon, he can perform dozens of flawless cataract operations at eye camps over a 12-hour day. Working tirelessly at the operating table he says “the surgical chair is the most comfortable place on Earth that I have.”
    Dr. Sanduk Ruit’s Background: In Depth
    Ruit was the first Nepali doctor to perform cataract surgery with intraocular lens implants and the first to pioneer a method for delivering high-quality microsurgical procedures in remote eye camps. Ruit was continually innovating. His ingenuity allowed for a sutureless form of surgery that was safe, high quality, high-volume and inexpensive. In the face of heavy skepticism from other doctors in the field, Dr. Ruit tirelessly worked to prove that high quality care could be successfully delivered in places considered squalid by western standards. As a tribute to his remarkable achievements, Dr. Ruit has received some of the highest awards in the field of international health possible.
    Honors awarded to Dr. Ruit
    Dr. Ruit helped found the Tilganga Eye Centre in 1994. Tilganga treats 2,500 patients a week and surgery fees are waived for the neediest. Because many of the poor and blind cannot make it to Kathmandu, Dr. Ruit reaches out to them by trekking into remote parts of Nepal and throughout the Himalayas. Dr. Ruit and colleagues from Tilganga have worked as far afield as North Korea, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Ethiopia and Ghana (among many other countries).